Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeGeneral TourismGovernment urged to reconsider funding decision for Inbound Tour Operators

Government urged to reconsider funding decision for Inbound Tour Operators

The Tourism Export Council of New Zealand has urged the Government and decision makers to reconsider their decision to not fund any inbound tour operators through the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme grants programme.

“We acknowledge the Government has done its best to provide support for some parts of the wider tourism sector,” says chief executive Lynda Keene.

“But it was hugely frustrating to be informed by officials at the last minute that there will be no grant funding made available for Inbound Tour Operators. The decision to offer loans will not help our members, as they have no income coming in for 18 months.

“On behalf of our members, we urge the Government and decision makers to reconsider this decision.

"Failure to do so will lead to a huge loss in Intellectual Property across the sector and leave us unable to support local operators once borders re-open.

“Our inbound members are an integral part of the tourism sector. They link offshore travellers and agents with onshore product suppliers and will be a vital element to recovery when borders re-open.”

Information provided by Tourism NZ through its Research and Insights team  suggests that 55 per cent of all international visitors pre-COVID were booked  through trade (offshore) and Inbound Tour Operators in New Zealand which equates to $9.46bn of $17.2bn that international tourism export receipts earned for the New Zealand economy.

Lynda says the decision by Government to not provide Strategic Tourism grant funding to ITOs was completely unexpected.

"We are a little perplexed that inbound tour operators are not considered to be strategic tourism assets considering the Government’s heightened emphasis on health and safety and contact tracing.

"Inbound tour operators have always (pre-COVID) being able to trace every client/visitor that is travelling around New Zealand of every hour of every day.

"Tourism NZ’s own research and insights supports the enhanced and expected role that Inbound Tour Operators will play in the future when visitors return to New Zealand and that Inbounds will be crucial to delivering on a visitor experience that meets new expectations under a post-COVID environment.

“Operators were led to believe they would be eligible to receive grants through this process. We are confused why this decision to offer loans instead of grants has been made.”

Lynda says TECNZ is keen to learn more about how the proposed Government-backed loan scheme will work for operators. No business can forecast or plan for 18 months with no revenue. COVID-19 is an unprecedented event.

“Our members have done all they can to keep their businesses afloat over the past six months in the expectation that some Government funding would be made available. The complete lack of support for this part of the sector means many of these companies will now shut down completely.

“We recognise that not every job and business can be saved, but the Government and the wider industry need to recognise the important role played by inbound tour operators.

“Maintaining the intellectual property and commercial business to business relationships that Inbound Tour Operators have with offshore tour wholesalers is critical for the wider sector and rebound of New Zealand’s economic recovery.

“That is why we applied on behalf of our members to the Government’s Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme to support them through the COVID disruption. Sadly it appears we were misguided that we did not meet the criteria, but it is extremely disappointing that not a single inbound tour operator will receive any grant funding either.

"We are keen to discuss this further with Ministers of the Tourism Ministers Recovery Group. The opportunity to share with Ministers or MBIE staff the critical and strategic role that inbound tour operators play in generating $17.2bn of New Zealand’s international tourism export earnings is vital to their survival ” says  Lynda.

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